Brittany Maynard, Kara Tippetts: Two Brave Women Who Made Different Choices

Brittany Maynard chose to end her life before cancer could take it, but Kara Tippetts chose life, despite the pain and suffering.

Both women were diagnosed with terminal cancer at a very young age. Maynard had recently gotten married when the she started getting excruciating headaches. Tippetts had been married for 16 years when she found a lump on her breast.

As millions who suffer from the devastating disease, Brittany and Kara had a choice as to how to proceed with their treatment and their decision couldn’t be more different. Maynard was told that she had an inoperable brain tumor and only had very limited time to live. She decided, after the very difficult realization, that she was not putting her family (or herself) through all that it entails.

Kara Tippetts decided to fight. Before being diagnosed, Tippetts and her husband, Jason, were getting ready to start a church ministry in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They had survived a close call when they had to evacuate their home during the Waldo Canyon fire, one of the worst in Colorado’s history, according to Shattered Magazine.

They got lucky when their house was left intact, despite the danger. However, two weeks after that scare, the shocking diagnosis of stage four progressive breast cancer came and that changed their lives forever. A drastic hysterectomy, rounds of radiation, eventually resulted in yet another form of the ruthless disease, brain cancer.

“It seemed ridiculous. Impossible. Hopeless.” Kara Trippetts — a mother of four — says in her book The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the midst of Life’s Hard.

“My hope is not in a cure today. My hope is not in the absence of suffering and comfort returned. My hope is in the presence of the One who promises never to leave or forsake, the One who declares ‘nothing can separate you from my love.’ [Romans 8:39]”

Kara has decided to fight this terrible illness, despite all the heartache it caused her family to see her suffering so. She just wants to spend as much time as possible with them.

“I struggle for the conclusion, I wrestle with the brokenness, and I pray, oh how I pray for more days,” Trippetts writes of her desperation and adds that this fight has deepened the love in her family, as she realizes how fear grips her loved ones.

After Brittany Maynard, 29, did her research on her condition, she also realized that undergoing aggressive radiation and chemotherapy would only delay the inevitable by a few months. Her decision to end her own life, on her own terms, was well documented and she even made the cover of People magazine in October.

Brittany and her husband, Dan, moved from California to Oregon — one of five states in the nation that have the “right to die” law — which allows terminally ill patients to end their lives. Maynard took a pill and “peacefully passed on,” according to the website Compassion & Choices, sponsors of The Brittany Maynard Fund. She passed away on November 1, surrounded by her mother, step father, and husband.

Kara Tippetts heard of Brittany Maynard’s intention to end her own life and wrote her a letter in October, begging her to change her mind, but on November 3 the news that Brittany had passed away came. She wrote this on her blog, Mundane Faithfulness.

“So, how should we respond to this pain, this hurt, this brokenness? Well, Jesus was not vague. He gave us an example. He did not say to enter into hot debates over ethical issues. Jesus did not tell us to speak unkindly to one another. He simply exhorts us to go, go and bind up the wounds of the broken, love the devastated, live his BIG LOVE to the hurting world around us. I don’t have the right words in response to Brittany. I simply have prayers as I stumble through today.”

Nobody can deny that Brittany Maynard and Kara Tippetts are two very brave young women who, when faced with the most horrific illness, chose to take it head on, albeit in very different ways. We know how Brittany’s fight ended; we still don’t know what awaits Kara. The question we are left with is this: what does it mean to die with dignity in the face of unspeakable sorrow?

[Image via Shattered/Mundane Faithfulness]